29 November 2009

Constitutional Convention Proposed Selection Process Anything But Conventional

Now here is an interesting group I just learned about: Repair California -- Californians for a State Constitutional Convention.

It is no surprise that there are numerous groups that are pushing for a new constitution for California. With the initiatives, the gerrymandering, the 2/3 requirement for the budget and to raise taxes, they could use a new direction.

What I find interesting about this group is the method they advocate for determining the members of a constitutional convention, which is both more elaborate and nontraditional than anything tried before.

The distrust and disappointment with conventional politicians comes through loud and clear. The county delegates with be selected, with a majority of delegates chosen at random. This process will be interesting to watch if it passes. It would be even more interesting to see if this process works. You know, it just might.

I mean, regular citizens could hardly do worse than the politicians. And you wouldn't have the filter of special interest groups and campaign money. I think it would be worth a shot, and might produce a concise and transparent document.

A diagram of the proposed selection process can be found here. I couldn't get Blogger to convert the format from PDF, so you'll have to click through to see it, but here is the text:

Routes to become a Delegate to the California Constitutional Convention

Selected County Delegates

The County Delegate Selection Committee of each County will hold public meetings to select, by majority vote, County delegates to the convention. Any person interested can and should apply.

In each County there will be a Delegate Selection Committee made up of five people: Two members of the Board of Supervisors, two mayors and a school board or board of education member. Each California County will have one delegate for every 175,000 residents. If a County has a population of less than 175,000, they will have one delegate.

The three cities that have a population of over one million (Los Angeles, San Diego & San Jose) will have their share of delegates chosen at the city level by the members of the City Council, under the same process the County Delegate Selection Committee.

In addition, the four federally recognized Indian Tribes will also appoint their own delegates.

Recent population estimates show that there would be 221 County Delegates.

Randomly Chosen District Candidates

The State Auditor randomly selects the names of 400 people in each Assembly District across California. Those 400 people, per district, will receive information by mail about becoming a delegate. If they are interested in serving, they respond to the Auditor. Of those who responded favorably, 50 individuals per assembly district will be invited to attend a presentation to learn more about duties and responsibilities of a delegate. At the meeting of 50, following discussion and deliberation, they will vote for three in their own ranks to represent the Assembly District as delegates to the Constitutional Convention. Each California Assembly District will have three delegates. In total, there will be 240 Assembly District Delegates.

That would give the California Constitutional Convention 461 delegates, the majority of whom would be chosen at random.

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